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Family Structure 
Seventeenth -Century 

Andover, Mass. 
Philip J. Greven, Jr. 

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(Reprinted from the William and Mary Quarterly, 
3rd. Ser., Vol. XXIII, No. 2, Abril i§66) 

Family Structure in Seventeenth-Century 
Andover, Massachusetts 

Philip J. Greven, Jr.* 

SURPRISINGLY little is known at present about family life and 
family structure in the seventeenth-century American colonies. The 
generalizations about colonial family life embedded in textbooks 
are seldom the result of studies of the extant source materials, which his- 
torians until recently have tended to ignore. 1 Genealogists long have been 
using records preserved in county archives, town halls, churches, and 
graveyards as well as personal documents to compile detailed information 
on successive generations of early American families. In addition to the 
work of local genealogists, many communities possess probate records and 
deeds for the colonial period. A study of these last testaments and deeds 
together with the vital statistics of family genealogies can provide the 
answers to such questions as how many children people had, how long 
people lived, at what ages did they marry, how much control did fathers 
have over their children, and to what extent and under what conditions 
did children remain in their parents' community. The answers to such 
questions enable an historian to reconstruct to some extent the basic char- 
acteristics of family life for specific families in specific communities. This 
essay is a study of a single seventeenth-century New England town, And- 
over, Massachusetts, during the lifetimes of its first and second generations 
— the pioneers who carved the community out of the wilderness, and their 
children who settled upon the lands which their fathers had acquired. A 
consideration of their births, marriages, and deaths, together with the 
disposition of land and property within the town from one generation to 
the next reveals some of the most important aspects of family life and 
family structure in early Andover. 

The development of a particular type of family structure in seven- 

* Mr. Greven is a member of the Department of History, The University of 
British Columbia. 

1 Two notable exceptions to this generalization are Edmund S. Morgan, The 
Puritan Family . . . (Boston, 1956), and John Demos, "Notes on Life in Plymouth 
Colony," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., XXII (1965), 264-286. 




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teenth-century Andover was dependent in part upon the economic de- 
velopment of the community during the same period. Andover, settled 
by a group of about eighteen men during the early 1640's and incorporated 
in 1646, was patterned at the outset after the English open field villages 
familiar to many of the early settlers. The inhabitants resided on house 
lots adjacent to each other in the village center, with their individual 
holdings of land being distributed in small plots within two large fields 
beyond the village center. House lots ranged in size from four to twenty 
acres, and subsequent divisions of land within the town were propor- 
tionate to the size of the house lots. By the early 1660's, about forty-two 
men had arrived to settle in Andover, of whom thirty-six became perma- 
nent residents. During the first decade and a half, four major divisions 
of the arable land in the town were granted. The first two divisions 
established two open fields, in which land was granted to the inhabitants 
on the basis of one acre of land for each acre of house lot. The third 
division, which provided four acres of land for each acre of house lot, 
evidently did not form another open field, but was scattered about the 
town. The fourth and final division of land during the seventeenth 
century occurred in 1662, and gave land to the householders at the rate 
of twenty acres for each acre of their house lots. Each householder thus 
obtained a minimum division allotment of about eighty acres and a max- 
imum allotment of about four hundred acres. Cumulatively, these four 
successive divisions of town land, together with additional divisions of 
meadow and swampland, provided each of the inhabitants with at least 
one hundred acres of land for farming, and as much as six hundred acres. 
During the years following these substantial grants of land, many of the 
families in the town removed their habitations from the house lots in the 
town center onto their distant, and extensive, farm lands, thus altering 
the character of the community through the establishment of independent 
family farms and scattered residences. By the 1680's, more than half the 
families in Andover lived outside the original center of the town on their 
own ample farms. The transformation of the earlier open field village 
effectively recast the basis for family life within the community. 2 

2 For a full discussion of the transformation of 17th-century Andover, see my 
article, "Old Patterns in the New World: The Distribution of Land in 17th Cen- 
tury Andover," Essex Institute Historical Collections, CI (April 1965), 133-148. See 
also the study of Sudbury, Mass., in Sumner Chilton Powell, Puritan Village: The 
Formation of a New England Town (Middletown, Conn., 1963). 






























An examination of the number of children whose births are recorded 
in the Andover town records between 1651 and 1699 reveals a steady in- 
crease in the number of children being born throughout the period. (See 
Table I. 3 ) Between 1651 and 1654, 28 births are recorded, followed by 32 
between 1655 and 1659, 43 between 1660 and 1664, 44 between 1665 and 
1669, 78 between 1670 and 1674, and 90 between 1675 and 1679. After 
1680, the figures rise to more than one hundred births every five years. 

Table i 

the number of sons and daughters living at the age of 21 
in twenty-nine first-generation families 




Families 027611200010 

The entire picture of population growth in Andover, however, cannot be 
formed from a study of the town records alone since these records do not 
reflect the pattern of generations within the town. Looked at from the 
point of view of the births of the children of the first generation of 
settlers who arrived in Andover between the first setdement in the mid- 
1640's and 1660, a very different picture emerges, hidden within the en- 
tries of the town records and genealogies. 4 The majority of the second- 
generation children were born during the two decades of the 1650's and 
the 1660's. The births of 159 second-generation children were distributed 
in decades as follows: 10 were born during the 1630 's, either in England 

8 The figures in Table I were compiled from the first MS book of Andover vital 
records, A Record of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Begun 1651 Ended 1700, lo- 
cated in the vault of the Town Clerk's office, Town Hall, Andover, Mass. For a 
suggestive comparison of population growth in a small village, see W. G. Hoskins, 
"The Population of an English Village, 1086-1801: A Study of Wigston Magna," 
Provincial England: Essays in Social and Economic History (London, 1963), 195- 

4 The most important collection of unpublished genealogies of early Andover 
families are the typed MSS of Charlotte Helen Abbott, which are located in the 
Memorial Library, Andover. The two vols, of Vital Records 0) Andover, Massachu- 
setts, to the End 0) the Year 1849 (Topsfield, Mass., 1912) provide an invaluable 
and exceptionally reliable reference for vital statistics of births, marriages, and 


or in the towns along the Massachusetts' coast where their parents first 
settled; 28 were born during the 1640's; 49 were born during the 1650's; 
43 were born during the 1660's; declining to 21 during the 1670's, and 
falling to only 8 during the 1680's. Because of this pattern of births, the 
second generation of Andover children, born largely during the 1650's and 
the 1660's, would mature during the late 1670's and the 1680's. Many of the 
developments of the second half of the seventeenth century in Andover, 
both within the town itself and within the families residing there, were 
the result of the problems posed by a maturing second generation. 

From the records which remain, it is not possible to determine the 
size of the first-generation family with complete accuracy, since a num- 
ber of children were undoubtedly stillborn, or died almost immediately 
after birth without ever being recorded in the town records. It is possible, 
however, to determine the number of children surviving childhood and 
adolescence with considerable accuracy, in part because of the greater 
likelihood of their names being recorded among the children born in the 
town, and in part because other records, such as church records, marriage 
records, tax lists, and wills, also note their presence. Evidence from all of 
these sources indicates that the families of Andover's first settlers were 
large, even without taking into account the numbers of children who may 
have been born but died unrecorded. An examination of the families of 
twenty-nine men who settled in Andover between 1645 and 1660 reveals 
that a total of 247 children are known to have been born to these par- 
ticular families. Of these 247 children whose births may be ascertained, 
thirty-nine, or 15.7 per cent, are known to have died before reaching the 
age of 21 years. 5 A total of 208 children or 84.3 per cent of the number of 
children known to be born thus reached the age of 21 years, having sur- 
vived the hazards both of infancy and of adolescence. This suggests that 
the number of deaths among children and adolescents during the middle 
of the seventeenth century in Andover was lower than might have been 

In terms of their actual sizes, the twenty-nine first-generation families 

8 While this figure is low, it should not be discounted entirely. Thomas Jeffer- 
son Wertenbaker, The First Americans, i6oy-i6go (New York, 1929), 185-186, found 
that, "Of the eight hundred and eight children of Harvard graduates for the years 
from 1658 to 1690, one hundred and sixty-two died before maturity. This gives a 
recorded child mortality among this selected group of twenty per cent." Italics 


varied considerably, as one might expect. Ten of these twenty-nine fami- 
lies had between and 3 sons who survived to the age of 21 years; twelve 
families had either 4 or 5 sons surviving, and six families had either 6 or 7 
sons living to be 21. Eighteen of these families thus had four or more sons 
to provide with land or a trade when they reached maturity and wished to 
marry, a fact of considerable significance in terms of the development of 
family life in Andover during the years prior to 1690. Fewer of these 
twenty-nine families had large numbers of daughters. Fifteen families had 
between and 3 daughters who reached adulthood, eleven families had 
4 daughters surviving, and three families had 5 or more daughters reach- 
ing the age of 21. In terms of the total number of their children born and 
surviving to the age of 21 or more, four of these twenty-nine first-genera- 
tion families had between 2 and 4 children (13.8 per cent), eleven families 
had between 5 and 7 children (37.9 per cent), and fourteen families had 
between 8 and 11 children (48.3 per cent). Well over half of the first- 
generation families thus had 6 or more children who are known to have 
survived adolescence and to have reached the age of 21. The average num- 
ber of children known to have been born to these twenty-nine first- 
generation families was 8.5, with an average of 7.2 children in these fam- 
ilies being known to have reached the age of 21 years. 6 The size of the 
family, and particularly the number of sons who survived adolescence, 
was a matter of great importance in terms of the problems which would 
arise later over the settlement of the second generation upon land in 
Andover and the division of the estates of the first generation among 
their surviving children. The development of a particular type of family 
structure within Andover during the first two generations depended in 
part upon the number of children born and surviving in particular 

Longevity was a second factor of considerable importance in the 
development of the family in Andover. For the first forty years following 
the settlement of the town in 1645, relatively few deaths were recorded 
among the inhabitants of the town. Unlike Boston, which evidently 

6 Comparative figures for the size of families in other rural New England vil- 
lages are very rare. Wertenbaker, First Americans, 182-185, suggested that families 
were extremely large, with 10 to 20 children being common, but his data for 
Hingham, Mass., where he found that 105 women had "five or more children," 
with a total of 818 children "giving an average of 7.8 for each family," is in line 
with the data for Andover. The figures for seventeenth-century Plymouth are also 
remarkably similar. See Demos, "Notes on Life in Plymouth Colony," 270-271. 


suffered from smallpox epidemics throughout the seventeenth century, 
there is no evidence to suggest the presence of smallpox or other epi- 
demical diseases in Andover prior to 1690. With relatively few people, 
many of whom by the 1670's were scattered about the town upon their 
own farms, Andover appears to have been a remarkably healthy com- 
munity during its early years. Lacking virulent epidemics, the principal 
hazards to health and to life were birth, accidents, non-epidemical diseases, 
and Indians. Death, consequently, visited relatively few of Andover's 
inhabitants during the first four decades following its settlement. This is 
evident in the fact that the first generation of Andover's settlers was very 
long lived. Prior to 1680, only five of the original settlers who came to 
Andover before 1660 and established permanent residence there had died; 
in 1690, fifteen of the first settlers (more than half of the original group) 
were still alive, forty-five years after the establishment of their town. The 
age at death of thirty men who settled in Andover prior to 1660 can be 
determined with a relative degree of accuracy. Their average age at the 
time of their deaths was 71.8 years. Six of the thirty settlers died while 
in their fifties, 11 in their sixties, 3 in their seventies, 6 in their eighties, 3 in 
their nineties, and 1 at the advanced age of 106 years. 7 The longevity of the 
first-generation fathers was to have great influence on the lives of their 
children, for the authority of the first generation was maintained far 
longer than would have been possible if death had struck them down at 
an early age. The second generation, in turn, was almost as long lived as 
the first generation had been. The average age of 138 second-generation 
men at the time of their deaths was 65.2 years, and the average age of 
sixty-six second-generation women at the time of their deaths was 64.0 
years. (See Table 2. 8 ) Of the 138 second-generation men who reached the 

7 The town of Hingham, according to the evidence in Wertenbaker, First Amer- 
icans, 1 81-186, was remarkably similar to Andover, since the life expectancy of its 
inhabitants during the 17th century was very high. "Of the eight hundred and 
twenty-seven persons mentioned as belonging to this period [17th century] and 
whose length of life is recorded, one hundred and five reached the age of eighty or 
over, nineteen lived to be ninety or over and three . . . attained the century mark." 

8 Since the size of the sample for the age of women at the time of their death 
is only half that of the sample for men, the average age of 64.0 may not be too 
reliable. However, the evidence for Hingham does suggest that the figures for 
Andover ought not to be dismissed too lightly. "The average life of the married 
women of Hingham during the seventeenth century," Wertenbaker noted, "seems 
to have been 61.4 years." He also found that for their 818 children, the average age 
at the time of death was 65.5 years. "These figures," he added, "apply to one little 



age of 21 years and whose lifespan is known, only twenty-five or 18.1 per 
cent, died between the ages of 20 and 49. Forty-two (30.3 per cent) of 
these 138 men died between the ages of 50 and 69; seventy-one (51.6 per I 
cent) died after reaching the age of 70. Twenty-five second-generation 
men died in their eighties, and four died in their nineties. Longevity was 
characteristic of men living in seventeenth-century Andover. 

Table 2 


























11. 5 















18. 1 


12. 1 



3 1 






The age of marriage often provides significant clues to circumstances 
affecting family life and to patterns of family relationships which might 
otherwise remain elusive. 9 Since marriages throughout the seventeenth 

town only, and cannot be accepted as conclusive for conditions throughout the 
colonies, yet they permit of the strong presumption that much which has been 
written concerning the short expectation of life for women of large families is 
based upon insufficient evidence." Ibid., 184. The observation remains cogent. For 
the longevity of Plymouth's settlers, see Demos, "Notes on Life in Plymouth 
Colony," 271. 

9 The most sophisticated analyses of marriage ages and their relationship to the 
social structure, family life, and economic conditions of various communities have 
been made by sociologists. Two exceptionally useful models are the studies of two 
contemporary English villages by W. M. Williams: Gosjorth: The Sociology of an 
English Village (Glencoe, 111., 1956), esp. pp. 45-49, and A West Country Village, 
Ashworthy: Family, Kinship, and Land (London, 1963), esp. pp. 85-91. Another 
useful study is Conrad M. Arensberg and Solon T. Kimball, Family and Commu- 
nity in Ireland (Cambridge, Mass., 1940). For the fullest statistical and historio- 
graphical account of marriage ages in the United States, see Thomas P. Monahan, 
The Pattern of Age at Marriage in the United States, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1951). 


century and the early part of the eighteenth century were rarely fortuitous, 
parental authority and concern, family interests, and economic considera- 
tions played into the decisions determining when particular men and 
women could and would marry for the first time. And during the 
seventeenth century in Andover, factors such as these frequently dictated 
delays of appreciable duration before young men, especially, might marry. 
The age of marriage both of men and of women in the second generation 
proved to be much higher than most historians hitherto have suspected. 10 
Traditionally in America women have married younger than men, 
and this was generally true for the second generation in Andover. Al- 
though the assertion is sometimes made that daughters of colonial families 
frequently married while in their early teens, the average age of sixty-six 
second-generation daughters of Andover families at the time of their first 
marriage was 22.8 years. (See Table 3.) Only two girls are known to have 
married at 14 years, none at 15, and two more at 16. Four married at the 
age of 17, with a total of twenty-two of the sixty-six girls marrying before 
attaining the age of 21 years (33.3 per cent). The largest percentage of 
women married between the ages of 21 and 24, with twenty-four or 36.4 
per cent being married during these years, making a total of 69.7 per cent 
of the second-generation daughters married before reaching the age of 25. 
Between the ages of 25 and 29 years, fourteen women (21.2 per cent) 
married, with six others marrying at the age of 30 or more (9.1 per cent). 

Table 3 






under 21 



24 & under = 69 . 7% 



3 6 -4 

25 & over = 30.3% 



21 .2 

29 & under = 90.9% 




30 & over = 9. 1% 




40 & over 




Average age = 22 . 8 years 



10 In Plymouth colony during the seventeenth century, the age of marriage also 
was higher than expected. See Demos, "Notes on Life in Plymouth Colony," 275. 
For a discussion of various historians' views on marriage ages during the colonial 
period, see Monahan, Pattern of Age at Marriage, I, 99-104. 



Relatively few second-generation women thus married before the age of 
17, and nearly 70 per cent married before the age of 25. They were not j 
as young in most instances as one might have expected if very early 
marriages had prevailed, but they were relatively young nonetheless. 

The age of marriage for second-generation men reveals a very different 
picture, for instead of marrying young, as they so often are said to have 
done, they frequently married quite late. (See Table 4.) The average age 
for ninety-four second-generation sons of Andover families at the time 
of their first marriages was 27.1 years. No son is known to have married 
before the age of 18, and only one actually married then. None of the 
ninety-four second-generation men whose marriage ages could be deter- 
mined married at the age of 19, and only three married at the age of 20. 
The contrast with the marriages of the women of the same generation is 
evident, since only 4.3 per cent of the men married before the age of 21 
compared to 33.3 per cent of the women. The majority of second-genera- 
tion men married while in their twenties, with thirty-three of the ninety- 
four men marrying between the ages of 21 and 24 (35.1 per cent), and 
thirty-four men marrying between the ages of 25 and 29 (36.2 per cent). 
Nearly one quarter of the second-generation men married at the age of 
30 or later, however, since twenty-three men or 24.4 per cent delayed their 
marriages until after their thirtieth year. In sharp contrast with the 
women of this generation, an appreciable majority of the second-genera- 
tion men married at the age of 25 or more, with 60.6 per cent marrying 
after that age. This tendency to delay marriages by men until after the 
age of 25, with the average age being about 27 years, proved to be charac- 

Table 4 
second-generation male marriage ages 




Under 21 



24 & under = 39.4% 




25 & over = 60.6% 







29 & under = 75.6% 




30 & over = 24.4% 

40 & over 




Average age = 27. 1 years 




teristic of male marriage ages in Andover throughout the seventeenth 

Averages can sometimes obscure significant variations in patterns of 
behavior, and it is worth noting that in the second generation the age at 
which particular sons might marry depended in part upon which son was 
being married. Eldest sons tended to marry earlier than younger sons in 
many families, which suggests variations in their roles within their 
families, and differences in the attitudes of their fathers towards them 
compared to their younger brothers. For twenty-six eldest second-genera- 
tion sons, the average age at their first marriage was 25.6 years. Second 
sons in the family often met with greater difficulties and married at an 
average age of 27.5 years, roughly two years later than their elder brothers. 
Youngest sons tended to marry later still, with the average age of twenty- 
two youngest sons being 27.9 years. In their marriages as in their in- 
heritances, eldest sons often proved to be favored by their families; and 
family interests and paternal wishes were major factors in deciding which 
son should marry and when. More often than not, a son's marriage de- 
pended upon the willingness of his father to allow it and the ability of his 
father to provide the means for the couple's economic independence. Until 
a second-generation son had been given the means to support a wife — 
which in Andover during the seventeenth century generally meant land — 
marriage was virtually impossible. 

Marriage negotiations between the parents of couples proposing mar- 
riage and the frequent agreement by the father of a suitor to provide a 
house and land for the settlement of his son and new bride are familiar 
facts. 11 But the significance of this seventeenth-century custom is much 
greater than is sometimes realized. It generally meant that the marriages 
of the second generation were dependent upon their fathers' willingness to 
let them leave their families and to establish themselves in separate house- 
holds elsewhere. The late age at which so many sons married during this 
period indicates that the majority of first-generation parents were unwilling 

11 See especially Morgan, Puritan Family, 39-44. For one example of marriage 
negotiations in Andover during this period, see the agreement between widow Han- 
nah Osgood of Andover and Samuel Archard, Sr., of Salem, about 1660 in the 
Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (Salem, 
1912-21), III, 463, cited hereafter as Essex Quarterly Court. Also see the negotiations 
of Simon Bradstreet of Andover and Nathaniel Wade of Ipswich, New England 
Historical and Genealogical Register, XIII, 204, quoted in Morgan, Puritan Family, 


to see their sons married and settled in their own families until long after 
they had passed the age of 21. The usual age of adulthood, marked by mar- 
riage and the establishment of another family, was often 24 or later. Since 
60 per cent of the second-generation sons were 25 or over at the time of 
their marriage and nearly one quarter of them were 30 or over, one 
wonders what made the first generation so reluctant to part with its sons? 

At least part of the answer seems to lie in the fact that Andover was 
largely a farming community during the seventeenth century, structured, 
by the time that the second generation was maturing, around the family 
farm which stood isolated from its neighbors and which functioned inde- 
pendently. The family farm required all the labor it could obtain from its 
own members, and the sons evidently were expected to assist their fathers 
on their family farms as long as their fathers felt that it was necessary for 
them to provide their labor. In return for this essential, but prolonged, con- 
tribution to their family's economic security, the sons must have been 
promised land by their fathers when they married, established their own 
families, and wished to begin their own farms. But this meant that the sons 
were fully dependent upon their fathers as long as they remained at home. 
Even if they wanted to leave, they still needed paternal assistance and 
money in order to purchase land elsewhere. The delayed marriages of sec- 
ond-generation men thus indicates their prolonged attachment to their 
families, and the continuation of paternal authority over second-generation 
sons until they had reached their mid-twenties, at least. In effect, it appears, 
the maturity of this generation was appreciably later than has been sus- 
pected hitherto. The psychological consequences of this prolonged de- 
pendence of sons are difficult to assess, but they must have been significant. 

Even more significant of the type of family relationships emerging with 
the maturing of the second generation than their late age of marriage is the 
fact that paternal authority over sons did not cease with marriage. In this 
community, at least, paternal authority was exercised by the first generation 
not only prior to their sons' marriages, while the second generation con- 
tinued to reside under the same roof with their parents and to work on the 
family farm, and not only at the time of marriage, when fathers generally 
provided the economic means for their sons' establishment in separate 
households, but also after marriage, by the further step of the father's with- 
holding legal control of the land from the sons who had settled upon it. 12 

12 Similar delays in the handing over of control of the land from one generation 
to the next are discussed by W. M. Williams in his study of Ashworthy, West 


The majority of first-generation fathers continued to own the land which 
they settled their sons upon from the time the older men received it from 
the town to the day of their deaths. All of the first-generation fathers were 
willing to allow their sons to build houses upon their land, and to live 
apart from the paternal house after their marriage, but few were willing 
to permit their sons to become fully independent as long as they were still 
alive. By withholding deeds to the land which they had settled their sons 
upon, and which presumably would be theirs to inherit someday, the first 
generation successfully assured the continuity of their authority over their 
families long after their sons had become adults and had gained a nominal 
independence. 13 Since the second generation, with a few exceptions, 
lacked clear legal titles to the land which they lived upon and farmed, 
they were prohibited from selling the land which their fathers had settled 
them upon, or from alienating the land in any other way without the con- 
sent of their fathers, who continued to own it. Being unable to sell the 
land which they expected to inherit, second-generation sons could not 
even depart from Andover without their fathers' consent, since few had 
sufficient capital of their own with which to purchase land for themselves 
outside of Andover. The family thus was held together not only by set- 
tling sons upon family land in Andover, but also by refusing to relinquish 
control of the land until long after the second generation had established 
its nominal independence following their marriages and the establishment 
of separate households. In a majority of cases, the dependence of the 

Country Village, 84-98. Williams noted (p. 91) that "the length of time which the 
transference of control takes is broadly a reflection of the degree of patriarchalism 
within the family: the more authoritarian the father, the longer the son has to wait 
to become master." 

13 The use of inheritances as a covert threat by the older generation to control 
the younger generation is revealed only occasionally in their wills, but must have 
been a factor in their authority over their sons. One suggestive example of a threat 
to cut off children from their anticipated inheritances is to be found in the will of 
George Abbot, Sr., who died in 1681, about 64 years old. Prior to his death, his two 
eldest sons and one daughter had married, leaving at home five unmarried sons 
and two unmarried daughters with his widow after his death. Abbot left his entire 
estate to his wife except for the land which he had already given to his eldest son. 
At her death, he instructed, his wife was to divide the estate with the advice of her 
sons and friends, and all the children, except the eldest, who had already received 
a double portion, were to be treated equally unless "by their disobedient carige" 
towards her "there be rasen to cut them short." Widow Abbot thus had an effec- 
tive means for controlling her children, the oldest of whom was 24 in 1681. George 
Abbot, MS will, Dec. 12, 1681, Probate File 43, Probate Record Office, Registry of 
Deeds and Probate Court Building, Salem, Mass. 


second-generation sons continued until the deaths of their fathers. And 
most of the first generation of settlers was very long lived. 

The first generations' reluctance to hand over the control of their 
property to their second-generation sons is evident in their actions. 14 Only 
three first-generation fathers divided their land among all of their sons be- 
fore their deaths and gave them deeds of gift for their portions of the 
paternal estate. All three, however, waited until late in their lives to give 
their sons legal title to their portions of the family lands. Eleven first- 
generation fathers settled all of their sons upon their family estates in 
Andover, but gave a deed of gift for the land to only one of their sons; the 
rest of their sons had to await their fathers' deaths before inheriting the land 
which they had been settled upon. Ten of the settlers retained the title to 
all of their land until their deaths, handing over control to their sons only 
by means of their last wills and testaments. For the great majority of the 
second generation, inheritances constituted the principal means of trans- 
ferring the ownership of land from one generation to the next. 15 The use 
of partible inheritances in Andover is evident in the division of the estates 
of the first generation. 16 Twenty-one of twenty-two first-generation fami- 

14 For deeds of gift of first generation Andover fathers to their second-generation 
sons, see the following deeds, located in the MSS volumes of Essex Deeds, Registry 
of Deeds and Probate Court Building, Salem, Mass.: Richard Barker, v. 29, pp. 115- 
116; Hannah Dane (widow of George Abbot), v.94, pp. 140-141; Edmund Faulkner, 
v.39, p. 250; John Frye, v.9, pp. 287-288; Nicholas Holt, v.6, pp. 722-723, 814-821; 
v.7, pp. 292-296; v.9, p. 12; v.32, pp. 130-131; v.34, pp. 255-256; Henry Ingalls, v. 14, 
pp. 40-41; John Lovejoy, v.33, pp. 40-41. 

15 The intimate relationship between inheritance patterns and family structure 
has been noted and examined by several historians and numerous sociologists. George 
C. Homans, in his study of English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century (New York, 
i960), 26, pointed out that "differences in customs of inheritance are sensitive signs 
of differences in traditional types of family organization." See Homans' discussions 
of inheritance in England, chs. VIII and IX. H. J. Habakkuk, in his article, "Family 
Structure and Economic Change in Nineteenth-Century Europe," The Journal of 
Economic History, XV (1955), 4, wrote that "inheritance systems exerted an in- 
fluence on the structure of the family, that is, on the size of the family, on the 
relations of parents to children and between the children . . . ." Very little, how- 
ever, has been written about the role of inheritance in American life, or of its 
impact upon the development of the American family. One of the few observers to 
perceive the importance and impact of inheritance customs upon American family 
life was the shrewd visitor, Alexis de Tocqueville. See, for instance, his discussion 
of partible inheritance in Democracy in America, ed. Phillips Bradley (New York, 
1956), 1,47-51. 

16 For further details, see the following wills: George Abbot, Probate File 43; 
Andrew Allen, Probate File 370; John Aslett, Essex Quarterly Court, IV, 409; 


lies which had two or more sons divided all of their land among all of 
their surviving sons. Out of seventy-seven sons who were alive at the time 
their fathers either wrote their wills or gave them deeds to the land, 
seventy-two sons received some land from their fathers. Out of a total of 
sixty-six sons whose inheritances can be determined from their fathers' 
wills, sixty-one or 92.4 per cent received land from their fathers' estates in 
Andover. Often the land bequeathed to them by will was already in their 
possession, but without legal conveyances having been given. Thus al- 
though the great majority of second-generation sons were settled upon 
their fathers' lands while their fathers were still alive, few actually owned 
the land which they lived upon until after their fathers' deaths. With their 
inheritances came ownership; and with ownership came independence. 
Many waited a long time. 

The characteristic delays in the handing over of control of the land 
from the first to the second generation may be illustrated by the lives and 
actions of several Andover families. Like most of the men who wrested their 
farms and their community from the wilderness, William Ballard was re- 
luctant to part with the control over his land. When Ballard died intestate 
in 1689, aged about 72 years, his three sons, Joseph, William, and John, 
agreed to divide their father's estate among themselves "as Equally as they 
could." 17 They also agreed to give their elderly mother, Grace Ballard, a 
room in their father's house and to care for her as long as she remained a 
widow, thus adhering voluntarily to a common practice for the provision 

William Ballard, Administration of Estate, Probate Record, Old Series, Book 4, 
vol. 304, pp. 388-389; Richard Barker, Probate File 1708; Samuel Blanchard, Probate 
File 2612; William Blunt, Probate File 2658; Thomas Chandler, Probate File 4974; 
William Chandler, Probate File 4979; Rev. Francis Dane, Probate File 7086; John 
Farnum, Probate File 9244; Thomas Farnum, Probate File 9254; Edmund Faulkner, 
Probate File 9305; Andrew Foster, Probate Record, Old Series, Book 2, vol. 302, pp. 
136-137 (photostat copy); John Frye, Probate File 10301; Henry Ingalls, Probate File 
14505; John Lovejoy, Probate File 17068; John Marston, Probate File 17847; Joseph 
Parker, Essex Quarterly Court, VII, 142-144; Andrew Peters, Probate File 21550; 
Daniel Poor, Probate Record, vol. 302, pp. 196-197; John Russ, Probate File 24365; 
John Stevens, Essex Quarterly Court, II, 414-416; and Walter Wright, Probate File 
30733. The Probate Files of manuscript wills, inventories, and administrations of 
estates, and the bound Probate Records, are located in the Probate Record Office, 
Registry of Deeds and Probate Court Building, Salem, Mass. 

17 MS Articles of Agreement, Oct. 23, 1689, Probate Records, Old Series, Book 
4, vol. 304, pp. 388-389 (photostat copy). For genealogical details of the Ballard 
family, see Abbott's Ballard genealogy, typed MSS, in the Memorial Library, 


of the widow. The eldest son, Joseph, had married in 1665/6, almost cer- 
tainly a rather young man, whereas his two brothers did not marry until 
the early 1680's, when their father was in his mid-sixties. William, Jr., must 
have been well over 30 by then, and John was 28. Both Joseph and Wil- 
liam received as part of their division of their father's estate in Andover the 
land where their houses already stood, as well as more than 75 acres of land 
apiece. The youngest son, John, got all the housing, land, and meadow 
"his father lived upon except the land and meadow his father gave William 
Blunt upon the marriage with his daughter," which had taken place in 1668. 
It is unclear whether John lived with his wife and their four children in the 
same house as his parents, but there is a strong likelihood that this was the 
case in view of his assuming control of it after his father's death. His two 
older brothers had been given land to build upon by their father before his 
death, but no deeds of gift had been granted to them, thus preventing their 
full independence so long as he remained alive. Their family remained 
closely knit both by their establishment of residences near their paternal 
home on family land and by the prolonged control by William Ballard over 
the land he had received as one of the first settlers in Andover. It was a pat- 
tern repeated in many families. 

There were variations, however, such as those exemplified by the Holt 
family, one of the most prominent in Andover during the seventeenth 
century. Nicholas Holt, originally a tanner by trade, had settled in New- 
bury, Massachusetts, for nearly a decade before joining the group of men 
planting the new town of Andover during the 1640's. Once established in 
the wilderness community, Holt ranked third among the householders, 
with an estate which eventually included at least 400 acres of land in 
Andover as a result of successive divisions of the common land. 18 At some 
time prior to 1675, he removed his family from the village, where all the 
original house lots had been located, and built a dwelling house on his 
third division of land. Although a small portion of his land still lay to the 
north and west of the old village center, the greatest part of his estate lay in 
a reasonably compact farm south of his new house. Holt owned no land 
outside of Andover, and he acquired very little besides the original di- 

18 For Nicholas Holt's land grants in Andover, see the MS volume, A Record 
of Town Roads and Town Bounds, 18-19, located in the vault of the Town Clerk's 
office, Andover, Mass. For genealogical information on the Holt family, see Daniel 
S. Durrie, A Genealogical History of the Holt Family in the United States . . . 
(Albany, N. Y., 1864), 9-16. 


vision grants from the town. It was upon this land that he eventually set- 
tled all his sons. In 1662, however, when Nicholas Holt received the fourth 
division grant of 300 acres from the town, his eldest son, Samuel, was 21 
years old, and his three other sons were 18, 15, and 11. The fifth son was yet 
unborn. His four sons were thus still adolescents, and at ages at which they 
could provide the physical labor needed to cultivate the land already 
cleared about the house, and to clear and break up the land which their 
father had just received. The family probably provided most of the labor, 
since there is no evidence to indicate that servants or hired laborers were 
numerous in Andover at the time. With the exception of two daughters who 
married in the late 1650's, the Holt family remained together on their farm 
until 1669, when the two oldest sons and the eldest daughter married. 

By 1669, when Holt's eldest son, Samuel, finally married at the age of 
28, the only possible means of obtaining land to settle upon from the town 
was to purchase one of the twenty-acre lots which were offered for sale. 
House-lot grants with accommodation land had long since been abandoned 
by the town, and Samuel's marriage and independence therefore depended 
upon his father's willingness to provide him with sufficient land to build 
upon and to farm for himself. Evidently his father had proved unwilling for 
many years, but when Samuel did at last marry, he was allowed to build a 
house for himself and his wife upon his father's "Three-score Acres of up- 
land," known otherwise as his third division. 19 Soon afterwards, his second 
brother, Henry, married and also was given land to build upon in the third 
division. Neither Samuel nor Henry was given a deed to their land by their 
father at the time they settled upon it. Their marriages and their establish- 
ment of separate households left their three younger brothers still living 
with their aging father and step-mother. Five years passed before the next 
son married. James, the fourth of the five sons, married in 1675, at the age 
of 24, whereupon he, too, was provided with a part of his father's farm to 
build a house upon. 20 The third son, Nicholas, Jr., continued to live with his 
father, waiting until 1680 to marry at the late age of 32. His willingness to 
delay even a token independence so long suggests that personal factors 
must have played an important part in his continued assistance to his father, 
who was then about 77 years old. 21 John Holt, the youngest of the sons, 
married at the age of 21, shortly before his father's death. 

19 Essex Deeds, v. 32, p. 130. 

20 Ibid., v. 7, pp. 292-296. 

21 See ibid., v. 6, pp. 814-815. 


For Nicholas Holt's four oldest sons, full economic independence was 
delayed for many years. Although all had withdrawn from their father's 
house and had established separate residences of their own, they nonetheless 
were settled upon their father's land not too far distant from their family 
homestead, and none had yet been given a legal title to the land where they 
lived. Until Nicholas Holt was willing to give his sons deeds of gift for the 
lands where he had allowed them to build and to farm, he retained all 
legal rights to his estate and could still dispose of it in any way he chose. 
Without his consent, therefore, none of his sons could sell or mortgage the 
land where they lived since none of them owned it. In the Holt family, 
paternal authority rested upon firm economic foundations, a situation 
characteristic of the majority of Andover families of this period and these 
two generations. 

Eventually, Nicholas Holt decided to relinquish his control over his 
Andover property by giving to his sons, after many years, legal titles to the 
lands which they lived upon. In a deed of gift, dated February 14, 1680/1, 
he conveyed to his eldest son, Samuel, who had been married almost twelve 
years, one half of his third division land, "the Said land on which the said 
Samuels House now Stands," which had the land of his brother, Henry, 
adjoining on the west, as well as an additional 130 acres of upland from the 
fourth division of land, several parcels of meadow, and all privileges ac- 
companying these grants of land. 22 In return for this gift, Samuel, then 
forty years old, promised to pay his father for his maintenance so long as 
his "naturall life Shall Continue," the sum of twenty shillings a year. Ten 
months later, December 15, 1681, Nicholas Holt conveyed almost exactly 
the same amount of land to his second son, Henry, and also obligated him 
to pay twenty shillings yearly for his maintenance. 23 Prior to this gift, Nich- 
olas had given his fourth son, James, his portion, which consisted of one- 
third part of "my farme" including "the land where his house now stands," 
some upland, a third of the great meadow, and other small parcels. In re- 
turn, James promised to pay his father three pounds a year for life (three 
times the sum his two elder brothers were to pay), and to pay his mother- 
in-law forty shillings a year when she should become a widow. 24 The farm 
which James received was shared by his two other brothers, Nicholas and 
John, as well. Nicholas, in a deed of June 16, 1682, received "one third part 

22 Ibid., v. 32, pp. 130-131. 

23 Ibid., v. 34, pp. 255-256. 

24 Ibid., v. 7, pp. 292-296. 


of the farme where he now dwells," some meadow, and, most importantly, 
his father's own dwelling house, including the cellar, orchard, and barn, 
which constituted the principal homestead and house of Nicholas Holt, Sr. 25 
In "consideration of this my fathers gift ... to me his sone," Nicholas, 
Junior, wrote, "I doe promise and engage to pay yearly" the sum of three 
pounds for his father's maintenance. Thus Nicholas, Junior, in return for 
his labors and sacrifices as a son who stayed with his father until the age 
of 32, received not only a share in the family farm equal to that of his two 
younger brothers, but in addition received the paternal house and home- 
stead. The youngest of the five Holt sons, John, was the only one to 
receive his inheritance from his father by deed prior to his marriage. On 
June 19, 1685, Nicholas Holt, Sr., at the age of 83, gave his "Lovinge" 
son a parcel of land lying on the easterly side of "my now Dwelling 
house," some meadow, and fifteen acres of upland "as yett unlaid out." 28 
One month later, John married, having already built himself a house 
upon the land which his father promised to give him. Unlike his older 
brothers, John Holt thus gained his complete independence as an excep- 
tionally young man. His brothers, however, still were not completely 
free from obligations to their father since each had agreed to the yearly 
payment of money to their father in return for full ownership of their 
farms. Not until Nicholas Holt's death at the end of January 1685/6 
could his sons consider themselves fully independent of their aged 
father. He must have died content in the knowledge that all of his sons 
had been established on farms fashioned out of his own ample estate in 
Andover, all enjoying as a result of his patriarchal hand the rewards of his 
venture into the wilderness. 27 

Some Andover families were less reluctant than Nicholas Holt to let 
their sons marry early and to establish separate households, although the 
control of the land in most instances still rested in the father's hands. The 
Lovejoy family, with seven sons, enabled the four oldest sons to marry at the 
ages of 22 and 23. John Lovejoy, Sr., who originally emigrated from Eng- 

25 Ibid., v. 6, pp. 814-816. 

26 Ibid., v. 9, p. 12. 

27 For an example of a first-generation father who gave a deed of gift to his 
eldest son only, letting his five younger sons inherit their land, see the MS will of 
Richard Barker, dated Apr. 27, 1688, Probate File 1708. The deed to his eldest son 
is found in the Essex Deeds, v. 29, pp. 115-116. All of Barker's sons married late 
(27, 31, 35, 28, 28, and 25), and all but the eldest continued to be under the control 
of their father during his long life. 


land as a young indentured servant, acquired a seven-acre house lot after 
his settlement in Andover during the mid-^o's, and eventually possessed 
an estate of over 200 acres in the town. 28 At his death in 1690, at the age of 
68, he left an estate worth a total of ,£327.11.6, with housing and land 
valued at ,£260.00.0, a substantial sum at the time. 29 Although he himself 
had waited until the age of 29 to marry, his sons married earlier. His eld- 
est son, John, Jr., married on March 23, 1677/8, aged 22, and built a house 
and began to raise crops on land which his father gave him for that pur- 
pose. He did not receive a deed of gift for his land, however; his inven- 
tory, taken in 1680 after his premature death, showed his major posses- 
sions to consist of "one house and a crope of corn" worth only twenty 
pounds. His entire estate, both real and personal, was valued at only 
,£45.15.0, and was encumbered with ,£29.14.7 in debts. 30 Three years later, 
on April 6, 1683, the land which he had farmed without owning was 
given to his three year old son by his father, John Lovejoy, Sr. In a deed 
of gift, the elder Lovejoy gave his grandson, as a token of the love and 
affection he felt for his deceased son, the land which John, Junior, had 
had, consisting of fifty acres of upland, a piece of meadow, and a small 
parcel of another meadow, all of which lay in Andover. 31 Of the surviving 
Lovejoy sons only the second, William, received a deed of gift from the 
elder Lovejoy for the land which he had given them. 32 The others had to 
await their inheritances to come into full possession of their land. In 
his will dated September 1, 1690, shortly before his death, Lovejoy dis- 
tributed his estate among his five surviving sons: Christopher received 
thirty acres together with other unstated amounts of land, and Na- 
thaniel received the land which his father had originally intended to 
give to his brother, Benjamin, who had been killed in 1689. Benjamin 
was 25 years old and unmarried at the time of his death, and left an 

28 For John Lovejoy's Andover land grants, see the MS volume, A Record of 
Town Roads and Town Bounds, 96-98. 

29 See John Lovejoy's MS inventory in Probate File 17068. 

30 For the inventory of die estate of John Lovejoy, Jr., see Essex Quarterly Court, 
VIII, 56. 

31 Essex Deeds, v.33, pp. 40-4T. 

32 This deed from John Lovejoy, Sr., to his son, William, is not recorded in 
the Essex Deeds at the Registry of Deeds, Salem, Mass. The deed, however, is 
mentioned in his will, Probate File 17068, wherein he bequeathed to William the 
lands which he already had conveyed to his son by deed. It was customary for 
such deeds to be mentioned in wills, since they usually represented much or all of 
a son's portion of a father's estate. 


estate worth only £ 1.02.8, his wages as a soldier. 33 Without their father's 
land, sons were penniless. The youngest of the Lovejoy sons, Ebenezer, re- 
ceived his father's homestead, with the house and lands, in return for ful- 
filling his father's wish that his mother should "be made comfortable 
while she Continues in this world." 34 His mother inherited the east end of 
the house, and elaborate provisions in the will ensured her comfort. With 
all the surviving sons settled upon their father's land in Andover, with the 
residence of the widow in the son's house, and with the fact that only one 
of the sons actually received a deed for his land during their father's life- 
time, the Lovejoys also epitomized some of the principal characteristics of 
family life in seventeenth-century Andover. 

Exceptions to the general pattern of prolonged paternal control over 
sons were rare. The actions taken by Edmund Faulkner to settle his eldest 
son in Andover are instructive precisely because they were so exceptional. 
The first sign that Faulkner was planning ahead for his son came with his 
purchase of a twenty-acre lot from the town at the annual town meeting of 
March 22, 1669/70. 35 He was the only first-generation settler to purchase 
such a lot, all of the other purchasers being either second-generation sons 
or newcomers, and it was evident that he did not buy it for himself since 
he already had a six-acre house lot and more than one hundred acres of 
land in Andover. 30 The town voted that "in case the said Edmond shall at 
any time put such to live upon it as the town shall approve, or have no just 
matter against them, he is to be admitted to be a townsman." The eldest of 
his two sons, Francis, was then a youth of about nineteen years. Five years 
later, January 4, 1674/5, Francis was admitted as a townsman of Andover 
"upon the account of the land he now enjoyeth," almost certainly his 

33 For the inventory to Benjamin Lovejoy's estate, see the Probate File 17048. 

34 Ibid., 17068. Provision for the widow was customary, and is to be found in all 
the wills of first-generation settlers who left their wives still alive. Generally, the son 
who inherited the paternal homestead was obligated to fulfill most of the necessary 
services for his mother, usually including the provision of firewood and other 
essentials of daily living. Provision also was made in most instances for the mother 
to reside in one or two rooms of the paternal house, or to have one end of the 
house, sometimes with a garden attached. Accommodations thus were written into 
wills to ensure that the mother would be cared for in her old age and would 
retain legal grounds for demanding such provisions. 

35 Andover, MS volume of Ancient Town Records, located in the Town Clerk's 
office, Andover. 

38 For Edmund Faulkner's land grants in Andover, see the MS Record of Town 
Roads and Town Bounds, 52-53. 


father's twenty acres. 37 The following October, aged about 24, Francis 
married the minister's daughter. A year and a half later, in a deed dated 
February 1, 1676/7, Edmund Faulkner freely gave his eldest son "one 
halfe of my Living here at home" to be "Equally Divided between us 
both." 38 Francis was to pay the town rates on his half, and was to have half 
the barn, half the orchard, and half the land about his father's house, and 
both he and his father were to divide the meadows. Significantly, Edmund 
added that "all my Sixscore acres over Shawshinne river I wholly give 
unto him," thus handing over, at the relatively young age of 52, most of his 
upland and half of the remainder of his estate to his eldest son. The con- 
trol of most of his estate thereby was transferred legally and completely 
from the first to the second generation, Edmund's second and youngest 
son, John, was still unmarried at the time Francis received his gift, and 
waited until 1682 before marrying at the age of 28. Eventually he received 
some land by his father's will, but his inheritance was small compared to 
his brother's. Edmund Faulkner's eagerness to hand over the control of his 
estate to his eldest son is notable for its rarity and accentuates the fact that 
almost none of his friends and neighbors chose to do likewise. 39 It is just 
possible that Faulkner, himself a younger son of an English gentry family, 
sought to preserve most of his Andover estate intact by giving it to his eld- 
est son. If so, it would only emphasize his distinctiveness from his neigh- 
bors. For the great majority of the first-generation settlers in Andover, part- 
ible inheritances and delayed control by the first generation over the land 
were the rule. Faulkner was the exception which proved it. 

Embedded in the reconstructions of particular family histories is a 
general pattern of family structure unlike any which are known or sus- 
pected to have existed either in England or its American colonies during 
the seventeenth century. It is evident that the family structure which de- 
veloped during the lifetimes of the first two generations in Andover cannot 

87 Town meeting of Jan. 4, 1674/5, Andover, Ancient Town Records. 

88 Essex Deeds, v. 39, p. 250. Only one other instance of the co-partnership of 
father and son is to be found in the wills of seventeenth-century Andover, but not 
among the men who founded the town. See the MS will of Andrew Peters, Pro- 
bate File 21550. 

89 The only instance of impartible inheritance, or primogeniture, to be found in 
the first generation of Andover's settlers occurred within the first decade of its 
settlement, before the extensive land grants of 1662 had been voted by the town. See 
John Osgood's will, dated Apr. 12, 1650, in Essex Quarterly Court, I, 239. Osgood 
left his entire Andover estate to the eldest of his two sons. 


be classified satisfactorily according to any of the more recent definitions ap- 
plied to types of family life in the seventeenth century. It was not simply a 
"patrilineal group of extended kinship gathered into a single household," 40 
nor was it simply a "nuclear independent family, that is man, wife, and 
children living apart from relatives." 41 The characteristic family structure 
which emerged in Andover with the maturing of the second generation 
during the 1670 's and 1680's was a combination of both the classical ex- 
tended family and the nuclear family. This distinctive form of family struc- 
ture is best described as a modified extended family — defined as a kinship 
group of two or more generations living within a single community in 
which the dependence of the children upon their parents continues after the 
children have married and are living under a separate roof. This family 
structure is a modified extended family because all members of the family 
are not "gathered into a single household," but it is still an extended family 
because the newly created conjugal unit of husband and wife live in sep- 
arate households in close proximity to their parents and siblings and con- 
tinue to be economically dependent in some respects upon their parents. 
And because of the continuing dependence of the second generation upon 
their first-generation fathers, who continued to own most of the family land 
throughout the better part of their lives, the family in seventeenth-century 
Andover was patriarchal as well. The men who first settled the town long 

40 Bernard Bailyn, Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and 
Opportunities for Study (Chapel Hill, i960), 15-16. "Besides children, who often 
remained in the home well into maturity," Bailyn adds, the family "included a 
wide range of other dependents: nieces and nephews, cousins, and, except for 
families at the lowest rung of society, servants in filial discipline. In the Elizabethan 
family the conjugal unit was only the nucleus of a broad kinship community whose 
outer edges merges almost imperceptibly into the society at large." For further 
discussions of the extended family in England, see Peter Laslett, "The Gentry of 
Kent in 1640," Cambridge Historical Journal, IX (1948), 148-164; and Peter Las- 
lett's introduction to his edition of Patriarcha and Other Political Worlds of Sir 
Robert Filmer (Oxford, 1949), esp. 22-26. 

41 Peter Laslett and John Harrison, "Clayworth and Cogenhoe," in H. E. Bell 
and R. L. Ollard, eds., Historical Essays, 1660-1750, Presented to David Ogg (Lon- 
don, 1963), 168. See also H. J. Habakkuk, "Population Growth and Economic 
Development," in Lectures on Economic Development (Istanbul, 1958), 23, who 
asserts that "from very early in European history, the social unit was the nuclear 
family — the husband and wife and their children — as opposed to the extended fam- 
ily or kinship group." See also Robin M. Williams, Jr., American Society: A Socio- 
logical Interpretation, 2d ed. rev. (New York, 1963), 50-57. For a contrasting in- 
terpretation of family structure in other 17th-century New England towns, see 
Demos, "Notes on Life in Plymouth Colony," 279-280. 


remained the dominant figures both in their families and their community. 
It was their decisions and their actions which produced the family char- 
acteristic of seventeenth-century Andover. 

One of the most significant consequences of the development of the 
modified extended family characteristic of Andover during this period 
was the fact that remarkably few second-generation sons moved away 
from their families and their community. More than four fifths of the 
second-generation sons lived their entire lives in the town which their 
fathers had wrested from the wilderness. 42 The first generation evidently 
was intent upon guaranteeing the future of the community and of their 
families within it through the settlement of all of their sons upon the 
lands originally granted to them by the town. Since it was quite true that 
the second generation could not expect to acquire as much land by staying 
in Andover as their fathers had by undergoing the perils of founding a 
new town on the frontier, it is quite possible that their reluctance to hand 
over the control of the land to their sons when young is not only a 
reflection of their patriarchalism, justified both by custom and by theology, 
but also of the fact that they could not be sure that their sons would stay, 
given a free choice. Through a series of delays, however, particularly 
those involving marriages and economic independence, the second gen- 
eration continued to be closely tied to their paternal families. By keeping 
their sons in positions of prolonged dependence, the first generation suc- 
cessfully managed to keep them in Andover during those years in which 
their youth and energy might have led them to seek their fortunes else- 
where. Later generations achieved their independence earlier and moved 
more. It remains to be seen to what extent the family life characteristic 
of seventeenth-century Andover was the exception or the rule in the 
American colonies. 

42 Out of a total of 103 second generation sons whose residences are known, 
only seventeen or 16.5 per cent, departed from Andover. Five left before 1690, and 
twelve left after 1690. The majority of families in 17th-century Andover remained 
closely knit and remarkably immobile. 


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